Left Decries Healthcare History it Doesn’t Know or Understand


With apologies to Sam Cooke and Kenneth C. Davis, when it comes to healthcare — and other issues — the Left’s new theme song should be: “Don’t know much about history!”

When Congress was debating Obamacare, the Left was much taken and smitten with history. Indeed, we kept hearing about how “historic” it would be to enact “comprehensive national healthcare reform.” And so it was.

“Obama signs historic healthcare reform into law,” announced the New York Times.

“We may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us,” declared a triumphant Nancy Pelosi.

“Tonight, we answered the call of history,” intoned President Obama.

Well, apparently, it seems that the only ones who can use and cite history are people on the Left: because when conservatives start citing history, the Left cries foul.

Actually, they don’t exactly cry foul. Instead, they pronounce — without any argument or evidence — that the historical reference points cited by conservatives are null and void or “over the top.”

How do I know this? Well, on Friday I published a piece in the American Spectator arguing that the real historical import of “comprehensive national healthcare reform” can be found not in Social Security or Medicare — the historical analogies favored by the Left — but rather in the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.

Tony Blankley made the same argument that same day in the Washington Times. (What can I say? Great minds think alike!)

In any case, the historical analogy is, I think, compelling. The Kansas-Nebraska Act created a firestorm because it allowed for the expansion of slavery into new federal territories. “Comprehensive national healthcare reform,” likewise, is dangerous because it promises to extend the reach of government-controlled and -rationed healthcare.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act, of course, led to the Civil War. “Comprehensive national healthcare reform,” I argue, likely will lead to an economic and generational civil war. In my article, I note that this will not be a literal or violent civil war, but rather a figurative, non-violent civil or culture war and political struggle.

Moreover, I argue, unlike the 19th Century Civil War, this new conflict will not be tainted by racism or racial concerns. However, like the 19th Century Civil War, this new conflict will rupture America along irreconcilable lines. It will involve diametrically opposed conceptions of America that are at war with each other. And in the end, just as in the 19th Century, America will emerge as either all slave or all free.

We will be all slave or all free in this sense: We will have either a truly free-market healthcare system in which consumers, not employers or the government, make all healthcare decisions; or we will have a “single payer” healthcare system in which the state monopolizes the market and all real healthcare decision-making. There will no in-between. We will have to choose.

Yet, what has been the Left’s response to this legitimate and compelling historical argument? Nothing, or at least nothing serious-minded and substantive. They simply dismiss the historical analogy out of hand as absurd and ridiculous.

Thus Media Matters ran a “research” report that provides no real historical research. Instead, they breezily reference my article (and Blankley’s) under a banner headline that reads: (Right-wing) U.S. History 101: Health care reform just like Kansas-Nebraska Act.

Media Matters even blows up my March 21 Tweet in which I first referenced this historical analogy. Their clear implication is that my tweet is damning or incriminating evidence of some crackpot “right-wing” historical theory.

“This is such a preposterous [historical] analogy that I don’t even know where to start,” fumes one blogger. So he doesn’t. I mean he doesn’t start making an argument. Instead, he blithely asserts that any such historical analogy is obviously “idiotic.”

That won’t do. If the Left wants to invoke a glib and slanted version of history to push through its statist healthcare “reform” agenda, then it better be prepared to argue real history with historically informed and knowledgeable conservatives. Unfortunately, it seems that this may be asking too much of our political friends and adversaries on the Left.

John R. Guardiano is a writer and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. You can follow him on Twitter:@Guardian0